Salford produced the performance of the season on Thursday night – albeit only two rounds in – when they thumped St Helens 44-10 at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The Red Devils looked impressive all across the park, with Saints putting in a worryingly disappointing performance ahead of next Friday’s World Club Series clash against Sydney. With that in mind, here’s the four big talking points coming out of Thursday’s game.
Will Niall Evalds get a start at full-back next week?
Salford fans have been surprised to see former Warrington half-back Gareth O’Brien play full-back in the opening two games of the season, with Niall Evalds, arguably Salford’s standout player from 2015, restricted to a bench role. However, he looked stunning when he came on last night – so will Ian Watson give him a starting berth against Widnes next Sunday? Time will tell.
Ben Murdoch-Masila is one to watch in 2016
Robert Lui grabbed most of the headlines last night with a stunning performance at stand-off, but fellow NRL import Ben Murdoch-Masila also deserves huge credit for his performance. Watson acknowledged afterwards that his pack laid the platform for Lui and Michael Dobson to run riot – and Murdoch-Masila will be a real find for Salford this year.
Who will play centre for the Saints next week?
Keiron Cunningham chanced his arm and went for Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook at centre alongside Mark Percival – but with the in-form Percival withdrawn due to a serious-looking injury, which Cunningham admitted afterwards didn’t look good – who will line up in the centres against the Roosters? Jordan Turner may slot back in there, but you feel Cunningham will have to go in a different direction to the one he went in on Thursday.
St Helens need James Roby fit ASAP
An obvious one to finish, but an important one for St Helens. Without their talismanic hooker on the field on Thursday the Saints looked utterly lost – and he’s a major doubt to be fit for next weekend’s game against the Roosters. Morgan Knowles did well enough – but the Saints need the leadership and influence Roby brings out on the field as quickly as possible.